I have mused over the last few weeks that my uncertainly isn’t all due to a lack of access to the truth, but from my former reliance on it. Have I learned how to live my life only when there are guardrails on my daily path and no forks in the road? Have I succumbed to thinking there is a guaranteed future that was taken away from me? Worse still, could it be that my fearfulness is of my own making, and that it rises because I am trapped into believing the ability to avoid suffering, failure, or death is possible?
A wild notion is developing in me that might be the simplest answer to all of this; a kind of parallel truth we may be missing. And that is, what if we all suddenly knew these three things deeply, and in doing so could take back the control we’ve given over to EVERYTHING and EVERYONE else?
Those three bullets can be summarized like this: If we have respect for self, are aware of the existence of things beyond our own selves that are equal in importance to our own appetites, and can cultivate an ability to have full joy by focusing on the present, we just might get through this. (And the other trials that will surely come!)
PART 2 - Feeling Joy in the Time of COVID
Do What Makes you Happy.
Our bodies have an amazing super power: The ability to smell and taste. Both which gives us such a rush of pleasure and joy we should revel in this being life’s greatest gift! Joy has been shown to boost endorphins, strengthen our immune system, and even out our ability to handle stress. I love when someone puts a good bit of food in their mouths and then begin swooning with happiness! Is this not a goal we should all strive to have?
For several weeks now my recipes have taken a turn towards comfort and familiar foods. I have rediscovered good beef stew. And remembered why creamed peas make me happy. Whether you choose to download and cook these recipes, or just enjoy the photos and the accompanying drool they provoke, I hope they help you feel powerful, even without a beanstalk.
RECIPE: Onion and Green Pepper Tender Beef Stew Over Mashed New Potatoes
Serves 4 | Click here for printable PDF
1 ½ lb Stew Meat Chunks (at room temperature, and patted dry of moisture)
2 T oil
½ large green pepper cut into strips
¼ large sweet onion cut into strips
2 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 t salt, ¼ pepper
1 beef bouillon cube
2 ½ C boiling water
½ C cabernet sauvignon
(Roux with 2 t corn starch and 2-3 T water)
Fresh parsley to garnish
Heat large saucepan with the oil. When hot add the meat and sear well on one side. Add the onion and green peppers. Toss until onions begin to show a little browning. Add the garlic and stir and sauté, turning beef until browned on the other side for just a couple minutes. Then add the bouillon that is dissolved in the water, the red wine, and the oregano, and paprika. Stir to combine. Add the bay leaf. Cover with a lid. Turn to low and let simmer on very low for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stew is done when meat can be shredded. Simmer on low for another 15 minutes if needed. Remove from heat, stir in roux to thicken. Serve over mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley.
©Recipe and Photo Copyright Camine Pappas, 2020. All rights reserved.
RECIPE: Quick-Pasta-Whatever with Skillet Marinara Sauce
Serves 4 | Click here for printable PDF
During the quarantine we got creative with cravings since you can only eat survival food for so long and you need something fresh! Ron wanted spaghetti, but I couldn’t stand to open a jar of Prego sauce. So, I came up with this variation that turned out to be easy, and the perfect comfort food.
½ lb ground beef (90%)
½ pint cherry tomatoes quartered
1 large stalk celery cut into small dice
1/3 sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic finely diced
1 can tomato sauce (plain, no flavorings)
2 T light olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T white sugar
¼ t each of paprika and turmeric powder
1 heaping T dried good oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper)
1 ½ C egg noodles (dry) cooked to al dente
Shaved parmigiana reggiano cheese and parsley to garnish.
Heat large saucepan with the oil. Add the onion and celery and tomatoes and cook until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the ground beef and cook on medium until almost done. Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar, paprika, turmeric, oregano, and salt and pepper. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes. In the meantime bring 8-10 C salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook to al dente. Drain and add to meat sauce and combine. Serve.
Many of us quibble about the question, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" But it seems to me there is a larger issue here that asks who cares about eggs OR chickens unless they're under a marinara sauce??? In fact, do we really need anything BUT the marinara? Why, the discovery of tomatoes is when the clap of consciousness MUST have occurred. At least if you love Italian food. And who doesn't???
According to Fork and Plate, Marinara sauce originated in southern Italy, with both Naples and Sicily being cited as its possible birthplace. It could not have been invented before the 16th century when tomatoes, a New World food, arrived in Europe, since the first mention of tomatoes in Italy dates to the mid-1600s. And even though the 1600's are not necessarily synonymous with the Big Bang in terms of calculating the history of the universe, I think we all consider it one of the greatest inventions of all time.
Choosing something with a marinara, and in this case with meat added, is the perpetual brilliant idea. It's as though when we suggest it, the whole room looks at us like we've just written the screenplay for the next Oscar winning film. You hear things like, "Oh my GOSH! That sounds good. What a GREAT idea!!!...And maybe that's because tomatoes are more than a fruit, they make us feel good. As John Thorne writes in a blog on Saveur, "Tomatoes were born to give pleasure."
Tomatophogia, or the actual craving for tomatoes is based on some pretty scientific stuff. We know that lycopene is important for keeping us healthy with the benefits of tomato-noshing far exceeding any small reason NOT to eat them. Speaking of cravings, check out this amazing blog called Organic Daily Post. It is brimming with some of the best content, videos, and how-to out there on food, herbs, oils, and nutrition. It is here you can discover the 'right' way to start tomatoes from seeds. (A must try if you happily suffer from tomatophogia!)
But let's get back to the post. And my recipe. And why you read my website: YUMMY FOOD!
AHHH, AND what better vehicle to transport us into our "vivid Italian-ness" than eggplant? Especially when it's wrapped around ricotta cheese and smothered in the sauce of the gods? Ah yes, ahhhh.
Here's the best news. If you're not feeling like making your own sauce, although I highly recommend it, you can have these beauties ready in just an hour or so with a quality bottled version. Don't believe me? I double dog dare you to try this recipe yourself. You'll be swaying and saying "Mama-Mia!" in no time.
RECIPE: Ricotta Parmesan Stuffed Eggplant with Meat Sauce
Serves 4 - 6 / Click here for printable version.
2 medium to large eggplant, more tall than wide
1 15 oz. tub whole milk ricotta
1 heaping 1/3 C fresh grated parmesan
½ t fresh grated nutmeg
½ lb. 80% lean ground beef
1 24 oz. bottle spaghetti sauce (I used Bertoli organic with onion and garlic or make my recipe by clicking here! )
5+ T kosher salt
½ t cracked black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
1/3 C white sweet onion chopped finely
…and just keep a bottle of olive oil handy. You’ll need it!
LOTS of fresh basil for topping the mixture before baking, and for the garnish when plated.
Slice off the top and bottom of the eggplant so you can stand it on end easily. Cut it into long slices, about ¼ inch thick. You will need about 10 to 12 good slices. Don’t use but don’t discard the outside slices with the skin on…go ahead and chop them into 1/4 inch cubes for adding to the meat sauce. Now, place all the eggplant in a large bowl and GENEROUSLY rub with salt. Seriously…think of a salt scrub in the shower. GO FOR IT. Make sure they’re covered by using your hands. Now place them in a colander inside another bowl and let rest for 20 minutes while the moisture drains. Drain the liquid, RINSE the pieces thoroughly, pat them completely dry with paper towels and lay them out on a large, slightly oiled baking sheet (they can touch a bit so you can fit them all on one sheet), and rub them with a bit more oil. NO SALT. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 13 minutes. Remove and let come to room temperature so you can touch them. Lower the oven temp to 375 degrees F for later and keep oven on if you’d like.
While eggplant is baking, pour about 1 T oil into a large sauce pan. When almost to smoke point, add the meat and break it up to cook it. Let it brown slightly on medium high heat. Add the onion and the chopped eggplant pieces, about 1 t kosher salt, and stir until onion is translucent and eggplant is cooked. About 4 – 5 minutes. Now add the garlic, stir and let get fragrant. Add the whole bottle of sauce, and stir well. Lower heat to let it simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, the parmesan, about ½ t kosher salt, the black pepper, and the nutmeg. Stir well and set aside.
To assemble. Put about 1 to 1 ½ C sauce on the bottom of a greased glass baking dish. I find that a size close to about 7” by 10” worked great for me. Place 1 of the slices of eggplant on an oiled surface (Not the counter. It will stick!), place about ¼ - 1/3 C of the cheese mixture at one end. Roll up and place seam side down on the meat mixture. Repeat until all 12 eggplant have been stuffed and arranged evenly in the dish. Cover with the rest of the meat sauce, sprinkle generously with torn or chopped basil, and cook for 20 minutes, or until bubbly but not burning.
Remove, serve and garnish with more basil!
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.